The 11 hospitals where NSW’s first COVID-19 vaccine doses will be offered have been revealed, as restrictions in Sydney relax and states move to reopen borders.
Those eligible in Phase 1a of Australia’s vaccine rollout will first be able to access the Pfizer vaccine at the Royal Prince Alfred, Westmead and Liverpool hospitals.
Vaccination hubs will then be set up at Hornsby, St George, Nepean, Newcastle, Wollongong, Coffs Harbour, Dubbo and Wagga Wagga hospitals.
NSW Health expects limited doses will be available in the first few months of the rollout, but if more become available the number of vaccine hubs will expand.
Aged or disability care workers and residents are first in line for the jab, along with paramedics, emergency department or critical care ward staff, and those working with COVID tests or at COVID quarantine facilities.
Staff supporting those areas, such as cleaners, other health professionals or security, will also be eligible for the vaccine.
Other health workers, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders over the age of 55 and the elderly are among those next in line in Phase 1b.
“Once more vaccine doses become available from Phase 1b, it is expected that one or more COVID-19 vaccines will be available for the wider population through usual immunisation providers, including GP practices, GP respiratory clinics and Aboriginal health services,” NSW Health said.
Australia has ordered doses of three different vaccines – made by Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Novavax – all of which require two doses.
The first doses of Pfizer vaccine are expected to be available from late February, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration is considering the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine, expected to arrive in March, for approval.
Meanwhile, restrictions on mask usage in Greater Sydney and the number of visitors allowed in homes and at other gatherings have eased, with changes to interstate border arrangements not far off.
Sydneysiders will from Friday be allowed to have 30 visitors in their homes, while 50 people can attend picnics and other outdoor gatherings, including in yards.
There will be 300 guests allowed at weddings and funerals, while caps will be removed on corporate events, religious gatherings and hospitality venues. However, the “four square metre” rule still applies.
Masks will also no longer be compulsory in shops, but people will still be obliged to wear them on public transport, at religious gatherings, in gaming rooms, at hairdressers and beauticians and in public-facing hospitality jobs.
Border restrictions imposed on Greater Sydney residents by Queensland, South Australia and Victoria are also set to be wound back.
The Queensland government on Thursday agreed to allow entry to all Greater Sydney residents from Monday, while travellers to South Australia will now only be required to isolate until a negative test result is received.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews on Thursday flagged an easing of border restrictions for Greater Sydney, with an announcement to come on Friday.
NSW recorded zero new local COVID-19 cases for the 11th consecutive day on Wednesday.